“These trends are part of the forces of history that cannot be stopped. No person and no organization can resist them for very long. They are inevitable. Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. Our opponents must understand that it’s not just a union we have built. Unions, like other institutions, can come and go. But we’re more than an institution. For nearly 20 years, our union has been on the cutting edge of a people’s cause–and you cannot do away with an entire people; you cannot stamp out a people’s cause”
--- Cesar E. Chavez, Address to Common Wealth Club of California, 1984
Prayer of the Farm Workers' StruggleShow me the suffering of the most miserable;
So I will know my people's plight.
Free me to pray for others;
For you are present in every person.
Help me take responsibility for my own life;
So that I can be free at last.
Grant me courage to serve others;
For in service there is true life.
Give me honesty and patience;
So that the Spirit will be alive among us.
Let the Spirit flourish and grow;
So that we will never tire of the struggle.
Let us remember those who have died for justice;
For they have given us life.
Help us love even those who hate us;
So we can change the world.
Written by César E. Chávez, UFW Founder (1927-1993)
Copyright César E. Chávez Foundation
Precepts of César E. Chávez
- Many times the task of organizing farm workers seemed like a hopeless one. There were many setbacks, but Chávez never wavered in his belief that what he was doing was right and never stopped working towards his goal of bettering the lives of migrant workers. He once compared organizing to harvesting grapes-concentrate on one bunch at a time and eventually the whole vineyard will be harvested.
- For César E. Chávez, being humble didn't mean being passive, it meant that he never felt the need to deny his roots. He was a farm worker, the son of farm workers and even though he became world famous he lived as simply as a farm worker, never earning more than $6,000 a year.
- Chávez embraced the ideals of Mohandas Gandhi, he never saw violence as the solution to any problem. He said, "I am convinced that the truest act of courage...is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally nonviolent struggle for justice."
- Foster Hope
- To act with courage one first needs hope. So much of what Chávez and the UFW were able to achieve was due to his ability to instill the hope in people that by taking control of their own lives they were taking the first step in bettering them. In one speech before a group of farm workers he proclaimed, "It [the poor conditions and low pay suffered by farm workers] is your fault. You let them do it to you. And only you can change what is happening to you. You-we-have that power. Each of us has the power to control our lives. When we take that power, we can improve our living and working conditions."
- Fight For Justice
- Chávez recognized that the battle for the rights of farm workers was more than a simple labor dispute, that ultimately it was a fight to secure basic human rights for those who toiled in the fields. He also recognized that it was hopeless to wait passively for things to improve without the impetus of people willing to stand up and work for justice. In a 1989 speech he said, "The times we face truly call for all of us to do more to stop this evil in our midst. The answer lies with you and me. It is with all men and women who share the suffering and yearn with us for a better world. Our cause goes on in hundreds of distant places. It multiplies among thousands and then millions of caring people who heed through a multitude of simple deeds the commandment set out in the book of the Prophet Micah, in the Old Testament: 'What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?'
- Source: http://www.colapublib.org/chavez/about.html